This week marks 2 YEARS since I started living my Nomadic (some would say “Gypsy”), minimalist life in Europe. What an epic journey so far; and so much more to come. With a few more recent developments, it seems like this will change a bit, but I am still not sure in what form. All I know is that right now I want to continue with my travels. I still want to keep connecting with people and living my incredible Gypsy life. I hope, in the process, that I can show that there are many incredible ways to live because I meet so many people who feel “trapped” in a work/life structure they presume is the only option available. It’s not. And for those people, if I can show even one that they DO have options and take away the rampant stress, depression, frustration, anxiety that I see everywhere, then I will feel I have done some good. But I hope I can do far more than that and I am excited at the prospect of pursuing that even more, in the coming years.
Adventure, challenge, beautiful people, challenging people, houses, apartments, hostels, couch surfing, bnb’s, pet-sits; lush green countryside, a gazillion beaches, mountains, architectural delights, cities, towns, luggage, planes, trains, cars, buses and more buses. And of course, the animals, all the beautiful animals…..big dogs, little dogs, puppies through to dogs in nappies; cats, kittens, rescue animals and fully trained & spoilt house animals; a goat, chickens, dogs, fish, birds, chameleons, and a snake (still waiting for my chance to care for a rabbit!).
Of course, not everything has been perfect, and I’ve had to deal with a range of experiences, in the moment, as best I could. For anyone interested, read on below to see some of these, the differences in the way I now see and experience the world, and how I think I have changed in the past 2 years. There has also been a marked difference in the way I feel, act and do, in the second year of my travels, compared to my first.
I have been truly grateful for the incredible DIVERSITY of people who have been part of my life the past 2 years. Many have made an impact, even if I just randomly met them in a coffee shop one day. Others have remained in my life and have become a joyous part of keeping me connected with ongoing friendships, while I lead a daily solo life. Being closer to my son (and his girlfriend) in Lisbon & being able to see him perform more regularly. And, then there’s meeting a special man in Portugal & falling in love. A man who’s has added a whole new dimension to my experiences this year, and everything moving forward from here.
If you are interested in finding out more about how things have changed for me, read on.
If not, thank-you for being part of this adventure so far, and I hope you will stick with me over the coming years.
Bring on the next 2 years… and the next 70!
WHAT HAS CHANGED AFTER 2 YEARS OF NOMADIC LIFE
So much has changed in my personality, the way I live my life, and my values, since I left Australia 2 years ago. It’s been an evolution & is still evolving. And I am even more aware that how I love and what I believe in now, is likely to be completely different in another 2 years. I also noted that there has been a marked difference in the way I feel in the second year, after finalizing more things in Australia, and feeling like this is truly how I LIVE, and not just a long holiday (for now, anyway). While most of the things below have just evolved over the 2 years, a couple of things I will mention separately are actually a big difference from Year 2 to Year 1.
But, as for the stuff which has evolved:
I drink Short Black/Espresso Coffee, instead of Cappuccino’s. Coffee is still my non-negotiable necessity. I love cappuccino, and tried multiple times to cut out the milk. But the horrible UHT (or even powdered) milk they use in Spain and Portugal finally did the job for me. I gave up trying to get a good tasting milk coffee. And in reality, their black coffee is some of the best I have tasted. So short black or espresso, it is!
I am much more “seemingly” relaxed about my own personal security. It is rare that I give it much of a “conscious” thought & go about doing what I do, day or night, as much as I wish; only being a bit more consciously vigilant in those places I know to be high risk areas (bus/train terminals, high tourist crowd areas/events). BUT I realise that my habits have made me more subconsciously vigilant. I have much wider expanded awareness. I spot people and things that many others who are with me, don’t. This has dramatically increased in the second year vs the first.
I have much wider expanded awareness generally. People have often noted that I hear sounds more than they have tuned out to; I notice flowers, beautiful things and people in my peripheral vision easily and I regularly turn around as I walk, to look for anything I missed from a different viewpoint. I pick up more details when looking at people’s photos. I tune in better to the needs of animals around me, as well as the people I meet. I am constantly scanning the voices of people around me, to try to recognise words in a language I am trying to understand or for an English-speaking person to connect with. I see tourists looking lost so I can offer assistance. I notice the residents in their environment and what they are doing, learning more about their everyday ways and to try to connect with them.
I get out of bed at around 8am instead of 5am! I still usually wake up at 5.30am-6.30am; but there is really nothing to do for a few hours and I often don’t want to wake up the rest of the household. So I stay in bed, meditate, check in on facebook and do a few things from bed before getting up. This has markedly increased in Year 2 to 1; as I’ve accepted that my “Australian habits” will have to change to make life here more workable, for the long-term.
I stay in bed rather than exercise in the morning (the fact that I often don’t get around to doing it later is NOT a good thing!!). But I love the meditation and other things I do instead too.
I go to sleep at 11pm-1am. I would rather sleep at 10pm. but it’s unrealistic here. Most people are only having dinner at 9-10pm, so there are many people who want to talk with you after that.
Food. I still predominantly (vastly) eat healthy food. But that food varies depending on where I am and what I can get. I can go weeks without eating meat, because it is just poor quality or expensive; then go to the next place and have red meat every night.
I have had to redefine “balance” and what I can do to maintain a balanced healthy lifestyle. Prior to leaving, that meant things like trying to do a mix of styles of exercise each week… HIIT a few nights a week, endurance or strength a couple, yoga/bodyweight another, pilates another, rest day. Now I have to “balance” over a 3-6 month period. If I can access a gym, I will do strength work 5 days a week for a few weeks (and smash kettlebells anytime I can get my hands on them); then I may go a few weeks of just doing bodyweight at home; walking for 15-25km per day checking out the area for a few days or weeks; riding a bike around for a week if one is available to me; occasionally I will remember to fit in a run; other weeks I get nothing done at except dragging 30kg of luggage around town, up and down stairs, and throwing it onto buses etc. But I also do try to make an effort to use stairs everywhere I can, running up them as much as I can. I never really progress my fitness in any area at all; and in a range of areas, it has started to drop (I’ve gotten a bit lazy). But overall, it’s the best I can do to balance.
Similarly, with food…. Sometimes what is available is a heap of bread and it’s the easiest thing for me to use when I travel a lot; but then at my location, I won’t eat bread for weeks or months. Same with cheeses. I will eat pineapple with breakfast every single morning for a month, because that is what is available; then later apricots or berries. If I am in a pet-sit with a blender, I will have a green smoothie every day for weeks; then not get another for a month. It’s not ideal from a nutritional perspective; but it’s the best that I can do in the circumstances.
Related, I have learnt to be VERY flexible and make the most of the balance of activities of what is on offer and what weather permits. I can spend all day, every day, at the beach, for weeks. Then, on others, I can spend a week inside catching up on talking with friends, doing things on the computer, meditating and doing courses etc. Instead of getting frustrated that the weather is bad, I now easily just flick into what needs to be done in other areas, and make the most of doing that. I have times when I get to meditate outside; others it’s only while lying in bed in the morning; sometimes for 5 minutes a day; other times for an hour twice a day. Sometimes I spend a week frantically “acting like a tourist” and sight-seeing everywhere. Then a month just quietly going about life in a local town. I have week so people, social, noise and activity. Then weeks of solitude in the country not seeing a soul.
I am uber-aware of my plastic consumption. Because I have to water-proof things for travel, and repackage large items into small, I use more than I would like sometimes. Some places still expect you to put all produce in individual plastic bags and weigh them, which annoys me. But I do try to put a number of items in one bag and put 2-4 labels on the outside. I re-use my plastic veggie bags to wrap toiletries in etc. I use plastic disposable water bottles because I don’t want the weight of carrying a non-disposable. But I will re-use it until it is about to walk away on its’ own. I have to use some small containers and things that I would prefer not to. But I hope this is “balanced” by the incredibly small environmental footprint I am leaving in other ways… by almost always cooking my own food, carrying my shopping bags, and “living in the resources of others” which would otherwise not be utilized… a house, furniture, whitegoods, empty seat on a bus, no car, and even often food in the fridge of a pet-sit host, which would otherwise have just gone off.
DIFFERENCES IN THE SECOND YEAR COMPARED TO THE FIRST
My second year of travel has felt VERY different to the first (even before throwing in a new romantic element!). After sorting out a lot of financial and personal affairs in Australia, it felt like I really just accepted that this is my life now (at least for now). It felt more natural, more comfortable, more easy. Not many things faze me, although I have not gone to some more adventurous places that I now feel I would like to.
I am MORE relaxed in places like hostels….. where I used to feel quite on edge if my luggage could not be kept in a locker, now I don’t give it a thought. I am used to handwashing clothes on the run, and draping them all over my hostel space, to dry. I am used to hanging towels around the bed to keep out light, I am better at knowing what to look/ask for select a hostel which suits my style best. I tolerate the noise better, and less clean places, different pillows, different bedding. I enjoy meeting the different range of interesting people (and their lives) that I meet in hostels and share accommodation.
I am more frustrated with not being able to speak the l.anguage in the country I am in. It is ok when you are acting as a “tourist” and doing all the tourist things. But when you want to understand and integrate in the culture of a country; as well as communicate at a deeper level to get to know the locals, it is really hard without the language. On paper, I have been in Spain, Portugal and Italy for a long enough time cumulatively to have have learnt those languages better. And I do know many words. But I constantly bounce between them, and my brain gets confused with recalling Spanish when I am in Portugal and vice versa. And my ear just starts to tune into the rhythm of one language, and then I move into a different country and have to start again. It frustrates me!
I care less and less with what people think of me, and how I look, doing what I do. If I need to stretch or move while on a train station, then I will do that, however weird it looks. I will sleep on my luggage waiting for a bus. I can set up my surroundings on a bus to make me comfortable for the journey, within seconds.
I am very comfortable in other peoples’ homes and used to poking through all the common area cupboards to find the things I am looking for. Similarly, doing a quick reconnoitre early to figure out how the lights work, and where they are located, the doors/windows, locks etc. Unfortunately, I also have to remember to explain this to my pet-sit hosts, who are less used to having a stranger in their home; and can be quite disconcerted if I just walk in and start going through to find everything I need in the house!!
I am less diligent about hygiene; and more diligent about hygiene in those things I feel are truly important. I will wear the same clothes for 2-3 days, if they don’t smell bad. I cannot tell you how much food I have picked up off the floor and eaten it, if dropped. My hands can be dirty from spending all night on public transport (and using a semi-functioning bus toilet), but they will still hold the food I will be stuffing into my mouth. I would prefer to wash my hands after using the toilet, but I have accepted that in some places, the option simply doesn’t exist. Conversely, if I get to a place which is dirty in food preparation areas or bathroom, I will normally clean them immediately, to make the most of the space being right for me, for the whole time I am there.
I don’t walk around and eat as much. It’s just not the culture here. They sit to eat lunch, not grab a burger and chips and eat it while walking down the street. But I am also not rushing so much to fit in seeing every possible sightseeing monument, in the time I am there. I would rather sit on a bench and people watch and eat my lunch, like the locals do
Bus travel doesn’t really feel like I am going on a big trip now, it feels just like “driving to work”, except I don’t do it daily. I’ve used buses more than any other mode of transport, so getting around bus timetables, stations, where to put my luggage, safety, handling (sometimes grumpy) drivers, electricity, wifi, food and supplies for my trip, is becoming much more second-nature to me. I am rarely stressed about running late. And as long as I have made it with 3-5minutes to spare, I feel very comfortable with my progress.
I am much more relaxed about the security of my luggage. I still take care. I still padlock my bags with important items. I still have a system of where all my important things go. But I now realise how few truly “vital” things I carry; and these are pretty well strapped and locked to my body. I used to jump up at each bus stop, checking to see if someone was taking my suitcase from the cargo hold. Now I sleep through it. Once I am packed, I figure I have done all I can do, and I have let go of my stress or concerns over it.
I meditate!! A lot. At least daily. I had started prior to leaving Australia, and did some during Year 1. But it has gone from being a thing I did now and again, to an important part of my day and is given priority
I have taken an even stronger spiritual path. Once again, one I have been on for some time; but now it has taken an important priority & it is the focus of my attention much more time in the week.
Bed-times and exercise… in the first year, I tried to maintain the structure I worked with in Australia, while traveling. Second year I have accepted more that it just doesn’t fit with the lifestyle here, and I have been changing and still to find a great/best solution for me.
I am more happier more of the time. I was not “unhappy” before. But it has just increased on every level. And it get many more instances of a deeper, fuller, unadulterated “joy” at random times and places. I am less stressed, my life feels more natural and in flow, I am less driven.
I am MORE connected with people and LOVE all the interactions I have. I have even MORE faith in people and the goodness and kindness of the vast majority of people. I have had a few uncomfortable experiences; but very few. And they are a good reminder to continue to take care.
The Universe has increasingly given me signs of what is the right path to take, how to take them; and then, often, giving me some signs of incredible confirmation and validation that I HAVE done the right thing and everything is perfect, for reassurance. This keeps intensifying. And events even in the past few days have brought together an intricate pattern of pieces, with impeccable timing, to conspire to drive me in a certain direction. Breathtaking in its’ intensity, speed and in so much volume of “ridiculous coincidences” that there is no way to shrug it off as “random”. It is happening more and more; and I love to live my life following the path then set out for me. And expressing gratitude for all that results from it
I am constantly SO grateful for everything. Comfy pillows, a nice bed, pretty flowers, the people I meet, what I learn from the challenges I face…. Just everything. And I acknowledge and express my gratitude daily, sometimes every few minutes!
I have challenges in my life, but I now see them for what they are, usually in the moment they are happening.. an incredible learning opportunity, and a tug to move in a different direction. I still sometimes get frustrated, I get concerned in the moment; but I rarely (if ever) get concerned about what the outcome or consequences will be; and I bounce out of any negativity really fast. I used to see the value in each challenge looking back at it in retrospect, but now I see it much more regularly right in the moment. The concerns and stress happens less and less; and is now barely a blip in my life.
I am developing a stronger network of friends in all areas, but particularly Spain and Portugal, and it has been wonderful to have opportunities to stop in and socialize with friends on the way to/from my next stopping point. Just lovely & I love this
I forget how much “travel” I actually do, even when I feel my life is fairly stable. Often it is only when someone asks me what I have done recently, that I get a shock. For example, I was just looking at my movements from 29 April, through to the upcoming 28 June, and my completed and upcoming trips. Except for 2 weeks randomly in France (which include a week of full-on “sight-seeing travel), I really felt that I hadnt done much. I then discovered that I had slept in 14 different towns/cities (a mix of homes, bnb’s, hostels & an airport), visited 5 others in 3 different countries. Ignoring local transport, I had done 16 major bus journeys, 4 car trips, 3 plane trips, 4 train trips & 1 taxi ride to get around. Not unreasonable for someone on a holiday… but a different thing when you consider I live this full-time.
And finally, most importantly, I love humanity even more. The more I travel, the more I see the common thread in people and how the exceptionally vast majority are kind and generous and helpful. I hope more people are able to just connect with others, without agenda, to discover the core of humanity when there are no vested interests at stake. Then maybe our world would be a happier and more peaceful place.
WHERE TO FROM HERE??
I recognise that the variety, fun and challenge of my lifestyle is really important to me. And now I feel like I have gotten more used to how I live, I am feeling the need more adventure. To go to new and more challenging locations; to try new things; and maybe go on some trek or adventure specifically. I am also looking for some sort of humane/environmental and/or adventuresome project to sink my teeth into. And with the addition of a wonderful man in my life, maybe that in itself will lead to a different type of adventure. It certainly feels that changes are afoot. I really have no idea what they will be. I am sure the Universe will present a course of action to me at some point.
I am not even halfway through my life in this reality, and I am excited about what the next 70 years or more will bring. Stay tuned!